"No (he didn't see Federer as the king coming into the tournament)," Dijana said.
"Because the last time the US Open they played, my husband said, 'This is the last time he win against Novak'. Because Novak was making the points with Federer's weapon. He told him that he is so mature that he can win, like him (Federer)."
"Now I look at things different. I think it's probably more relief than pressure for me because I'm going to get to the rest of the season more relaxed and just try to play a high level of game. I'm really looking forward to work (on my game) so I can improve and be the first player in the world."
Asked if he could dethrone Federer, whom he defeated in straight sets to reach the Australian Open final, as early as this year, the Serb was categorical. "I always believe that I can reach everything and I think that's even possible. "You have to consider that Federer and Nadal have been in the situation for the last three or four years of defending points and they've been handling it in the best way. We'll see what happens, but now I feel much better, much more confident."
The Djokovic roadshow did not leave Melbourne Park until after 2.30 yesterday morning, having obliged the media with interviews that ran almost as long as his four-set triumph over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There had been plans to mark his maiden grand slam title win — "I'll keep that as secret because we have special ways of celebrating," he said on Sunday night — that were put on hold. "I sat down with my family (at their rented apartment) for a little while, we just talked about things, smiling and laughing, then I went to bed," the 20-year-old said. "I was really tired, but the real celebration is waiting for me."
He hit winners and did not bore us for a second with percentage tennis. He gambled and produced timely aces. He did drop volleys that John McEnroe wouldn't have attempted, shots that rendered Rafael Nadal mute.
He pandered to the fans, cocking his ear to incite more noise. They obliged. He became the tournament story, allowing us to forget about capsicum spray, matches that ended just before breakfast and the inevitable absence of Australian players at the business end.
...But he did not win. They never do. "They" are the now annual underdog, who gets on a roll, gathers steam, only to fail at the final frontier. Marcos Baghdatis and Fernando Gonzalez were in the Tsonga slot in 2006 and 2007, each falling to the Swiss superman Roger Federer.
If some were unimpressed by the nervous ball-bouncing, the heart-thumping celebrations or the odd piece of equipment abuse that punctuated the Serb's victory over the wildly popular Tsonga, the new champion need not worry. The 20-year-old with the booming backcourt game, the volatile temperament and a winning way with both the racquet and the microphone seems to have plenty of time at the summit to get them back.
That process began as Djokovic overcame an injury to his left leg in the deciding set to hold on for the biggest victory of his burgeoning career. If that piece of courage under fire was not enough to appease those who had jeered his slow play — most vehemently as he faced break point at 5-5 in the fourth set — it still vastly enhanced the reputation of a man whose heart has not always seemed as big as his forehand.
Soccer great Diego Maradona sent Djokovic a congratulatory message after his win. Djokovic's coach, Marian Vajda, conceded his protege's success had come faster than he expected.
...The Djokovic camp has signalled the star will play fewer tournaments this year in a bid to avoid the fade-out of last year, and Vajda is happy to let the latest Grand Slam champion find his feet. "In this way, yes, if he continues like this, he could be No1 by year's end," he said. "Everybody expects him to be No1 now. If it happens for Serbia it will be great.
"But I cannot predict this right now. I am happy with what he has achieved and I cannot rush it."
But bringing that time forward is unlikely to happen. "Starting earlier at night isn't always the best option because we want as many people as possible to see it on television in prime time," Tiley said.
However, pushing the women's final back to an evening match on the last Saturday, in line with the men's Sunday night final, is likely to happen. "There's been a strong push to do that on Saturday night. There are a number of factors to consider, but the players like the prime time ... and that will be taken strongly into account," he said.
The focus on scheduling in the tournament's debrief was especially sharp given Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis began their third-round match close to midnight on January 19 and ended it at 4.34am on January 20. "I tell everyone it was the 'Perfect Storm' because everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong," Tiley said. "History is going to look back at it as one of the greatest tennis days.
"All we can do is say that we can never prevent it but we could minimise the risk.
"It was a one-off time under very, very unusual circumstances."
There was a dramatic tension throughout this match, one felt most keenly in the Djokovic players' box, where an unfortunate seating arrangement and Novak's struggles on court played on the nerves of his father, mother, and all around.
The Djokovic family, for reasons known [only] by tournament organisers, were seated directly in front of baying, face-painted Tsonga supporters. By midway through the first set, Srdjan Djokovic had reached the end of his tether, demanding the attention of security guards and eventually, tournament director Craig Tiley.
It was the morning after at Melbourne Park. The players' lounge was empty of players. Men and machinery made loud noises as Rod Laver Arena began its transformation from the epicenter of tennis into a concert hall that will soon provide a stage for Hilary Duff and Iron Maiden.
But for a few hours more, Novak Djokovic was still at the scene of his greatest tennis triumph. After a night of minimal sleep and maximum satisfaction, Djokovic, the new Australian Open champion, sat at a massive, polished table in the offices of Tennis Australia and explained what he had in common with the other 20-year-old who won a Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne this year: Maria Sharapova.
"I think she's a very strong female," Djokovic said. "She is mentally very strong and is a very strong personality. She doesn't allow anybody to fool with her, and she shows it every time on the court. She already has three Grand Slams. That proves everything. We are kind of on the same line in life. We've been through difficult things in our career, and we appreciate success much more, even though we are still young."
...But this year’s first major tournament was a reminder that the desire born of economic hardship and cultural upheaval is a powerful motor for an athlete. For the first time at a Grand Slam, all of the women’s semifinalists represented Eastern European nations, with Sharapova from Russia, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic from Serbia and Daniela Hantuchova from Slovakia. Djokovic’s victory also made him the first Serbian man to win a major singles title.
If there was a single factor that swung the match his way, it was Djokovic's service returning. After the first set, he got dialled in and was striking the ball with a consistency and depth unlike any of the players, including No. 9 seed Andy Murray, No. 8 Richard Gasquet and No. 2 Rafael Nadal, Tsonga had faced in his six previous matches.
"He's had some amazing success," Djokovic said of Tsonga. "He was very dangerous. I was aware of that fact and I was trying to stay with him. I knew sooner or later, with my style of game, I could get control of the match, which I did in the middle of the second set."
...With a definite renegade side to him, Djokovic brings something new to the mix at the top of tennis. And it is decidedly different than the one the sport is used to with the princely but predictable Federer.
Sharapova's dedication of her title to the late mother of her coach, Michael Joyce, rang a little hollow at the time. She's had so much media training, everything she says now sounds rehearsed. But Joyce talked a little about it to one of the Melbourne papers. And he told the story of how, after he expressed concern to Sharapova about what to buy his sister for Christmas - a job his mother, Jane, had always taken care of - his charge kicked it into overdrive.
"Every day Maria would come up with something new: 'Do you think your sister would like this?' She must have bought my sister 25 presents, Joyce told The Age. "Clothes, pyjamas, girlie stuff, and then she came over to the house one day and wrapped, like, 20 of 'em." It's nice to hear stories like that, because Sharapova is hard to like, and you really do want to like her because there's so much that's worthy of our respect.
Tennis ace Peng ready for prime time - China Daily, China Daily
Peng differs from other Chinese athletes, most of whom are funded by their local sports authorities. Tianjin Sports Bureau, located some 1,000km from her hometown of Changsha, Hunan province, discovered Peng when she was 13 and snatched her up before her home province could recruit her. Thanks to Tianjin's sponsorship, she was able to join pro tennis much earlier than the most of her compatriots and has been collecting points and prize money ever since.
But a left ankle injury slowed Peng down as she tumbled out of top 50 and failed to live up to people's expectations for the rest of the season. After publicly challenging the country's sports authority during the China Tennis Grand Prix in Guangzhou in 2006 and refusing to join the national team, her future appeared uncertain. She was disqualified from the tournament for coming late, but claimed she was set up.
..."I even considered retirement I had injuries and couldn't find my form, and tons of people blamed me. It was my mom and my fans who supported me and gave me the belief to continue my career."
In case you didn't know it, President Shimon Peres is a tennis fan. The information became public on Tuesday evening when Peres hosted a modest reception to express appreciation to Australian Open champions Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich for bringing "pride and joy" to Israel, "and a pleasant surprise." It quickly became clear that Peres has been following the progress of the two tennis champions for quite some time. He visited them in Athens when they were training and also in some other overseas training center which all three remembered, but could not recall the venue.
...Having mentioned equal opportunities for women in the game of tennis, Peres asked about Shahar Pe'er, and said that he would like to watch her play against Russia's Maria Sharapova. However when he heard that the first match is on Saturday, he said regretfully that the President can't watch TV on Shabbat. But he cheered up when told that he could also watch her on Sunday.
The players brought their winning cup to Peres, and in return each received from him a small book of Psalms with the Presidential standard and an inscription of appreciation on the cover... "This is more important than the cup," said Erlich.
You have a new tattoo. Is it a sign of a new beginning?
- After they banned me from the court, I needed only two days to make up my mind about the tattoo. I wanted something that was both beautiful and unique. My tattoo represents a fairy. I still believe in miracles.
...Not long ago, a doping control team visited you unexpectedly in Plovdiv. How many times did they test you for doping substances over these two years? Did you expect any special attitude towards you, now?
- They did not visit me in Plovdiv, but at my home. This was the first checkup after the ban. I am not worried about the other's attitude towards me.
- Not before long you told journalists that you had a German boyfriend. How do you sustain your relationship?
- God bless the mobile phones! I think that all these writings about my personal life are more than enough. I'll only say that when there is will, there always is a way.
- Is love a helper or an obstacle in a sports career?
- It helps you lose your head over the guy you love and prevents you from finding it again.
- What's the sharp lesson that you learnt from this ban?
Istomin, the tall, blonde right-hander made his Grand Slam debut against
Roger Federer at the Australian Open in 2006 and has come a long way since.
If there's an air of nonchalance about him, it's only because there was a
period of two years when he couldn't touch a racquet. Born to Oleg, a
photographer and mother Klaudia, who's also his coach, Istomin suffered
grave injuries in a car accident while on his way to an ITF Futures in
Tashkent in 2001 which confined him to his hospital bed for three months.
There was no tennis in his life till 2003 and Istomin picked up the pieces
and his racquet from there.
"As you say, 'the king is dead. Long live the king,' "Djokovic's mother, Dijana, told TennisReporters.net....
While that coronation is way too premature, Djokovic did display an amazing brand of suffocating tennis during the fortnight that signals he is here to stay. It's almost impossible to find a weakness in his game, and while he doesn't have Federer's flair or Nadal's gladiator appeal, he is relentless, technically sound in every area and, for the first time at a major, showed that he was willing to hit out when necessary... While the third-ranked Djokovic's run was incredibly impressive, it's difficult to tell whether he will be able to back his run week-in, week-out. He's still young and has been prone to getting worn down. But while Vajda wouldn't predict a year-end No. 1 ranking, he said it's clear Djokovic is ready to stand up to Federer and Nadal. "He's the one," Vajda said.
But Dijana was ready to take it a step further, saying that her son is prepared to take over the tour. Novak is the apple of her eye and for the rest of the tour, she's believes he's the forbidden fruit. "This is the moment we've been waiting for," Dijana said. "This is the first of many Grand Slams. You need to remember that. Write it down."
Ivanovic put on a brave face later and she will certainly have more chances in the future, but on court, she pursed her lips, yelled in anguish at her Friend's Box and cried through her speech when accepting the runner-up trophy.
She may have the biggest forehand in the women’s game, but the shot completely deserted her against Sharapova. Had she not served very well and had Sharapova played anywhere close to the level she showed in stomping Justine Hein, the match could have been over much quickly.
The other day in Las Vegas, I asked Andre Agassi if the general "globalization" of the game, specifically the drift to medium and slow surfaces, has killed the net game in singles. Andre thinks that the biggest change has been wrought by the strings (the new polyester ones, among which the best known probably is Luxilon). Andre pointed that big swings once were risky, but the new generation of strings has turned the conventional logic on its ear. "Now," he said, "The bigger you swing the more you are rewarded."
One by-product of this development has been the increasing difficulty players face at the net. Andre said that facing an aggressive net rusher now is the equivalent of "target practice." Free from concerns of over-hitting, players can now really load up, and even if their aim is less than deadeye, the mere pace of the shot makes the volley that much more perilous an undertaking. You no longer thread the needle with passing shots - you blow the needle to living hail and if you hit with precision, so much the better.
Still. The most bracing aspect of the men's final was the way Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played so positively - with so much purpose. I don't know about you, but I sensed that both men played a little like pit bulls straining on a leash. Each one wanted to get off the chain and launch himself at his opponent. Neither broke off the chain until the end. It also was the kind of tennis that made arguments over baseline and serve-and-volley tennis seem almost formal, a mite . . Victorian.
The win was the first at a Slam by someone other than Federer or Rafael Nadal in three years. The crowd was giddy from the start and the match felt fresh, even from the perspective of a TV viewer. It was frankly a relief not to have to hear the announcers try to come up with new and ever-more-grandiose ways to describe Federer’s play. As good as Djokovic is, he remains human for the moment. He showed a lot of that humanity in the final. The man who has worked for the crowd’s love in the past suddenly couldn’t get any of it from the Aussies, who were enamored with the more unlikely—and therefore hipper—Tsonga. Djokovic was thrown off for a full set because his family was involved in an altercation with a group of nearby Tsonga supporters. That’s the downside of making your support group such a big part of your performance. Djokovic's family really does function like a team, which is touching; but it’s also dangerous in an individual sport where you have to isolate yourself to play your best.
As a fan, I’ve enjoyed the wacky Djokovic clan so far—their brazen cheesiness was refreshing on Sunday after the long, entitled reign of that sphinx of the sidelines, Mirka. But how will we feel about Srdjan and company as Djokovic continues to ascend? On Sunday we saw Djokovic as a future king of the sport for the first time, rather than an up-and-coming, attention-seeking class clown. Here’s a guess: His crew’s coordinated shirts and relentless cheerleading—not to mention his own “Yes, I have heart, it’s located here!” chest thumps—are going to wear extremely thin if Djokovic begins to dominate the sport. But we’re not there yet, and we should forgive him his over-the-top excitement this time.
The Evans Report: Serbian Sensation - Richard Evans, Tennis Week
Afterwards, Djokovic’s Czech coach Marian Vajda revealed his fears about his player’s preparation prior to arriving in Australia. "We worked really hard for four weeks in Monte Carlo and Switzerland but I was worried that it might not be enough," said Vajda. "Novak had finished the year feeling very tired and it was difficult to get going again. But he put in the work and then discovered that he liked the new courts when we arrived here. He also changed his strings to play half gut and added Luxilon. It helped him deal with the balls.
"It is all too emotional for me to analyse the match properly – I will have to look at it again but it was very important that he stayed focused after Jo-Wilfried had won the first set. He had to show that he wanted to fight back and he did. They both played some fantastic tennis although Novak was too nervous to really produce his absolute best. This is amazing. I never thought we would get a Grand Slam title so quickly after getting to the final of the U.S. Open. But he deserves it because he has played wonderful tennis all through the tournament."
Incredibly, Djokovic wasn’t the only Serbian winner here on Sunday. Quite apart from Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, there is Nenad Zimonjic who proceeded to help China’s Tiantian Sun win the mixed title with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over the Indian pairing of Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza.
Tennis is a bizarre sport at the best of times. The Eastbourne event in Britain was once held up because "sun stopped play." Yes, you did read that correctly. The sun does shine occasionally in my country and this once it shone on an advertising display, creating a vision so bright that it blinded anyone trying to play on court three. Even Andre Agassi was upset by the British summer when he stopped mid-match at Wimbledon and had a ball boy apply sun block to his shining pate. It was something of a first as usually people don't so much tan as rust during their two weeks in SW19.
Hantuchova, then, is not alone in finding a way to blame someone or something else for her own failings. It wasn't me, guv', honest it wasn't. She could do worse than take a few tips from Rafael Nadal who, on suffering his worst ever defeat at a Grand Slam when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga blew him off the court in the semifinal, broke with tradition and fessed up: he just wasn't good enough.
Spoke to Eric Winogradsky, Tsonga coach's, who professes that his protégé's favorite player was ... Marat Safin.
I felt almost queasy watching Daniela Hantuchova choke -- let's call it what it was -- that semifinal against Ivanovic. Remember how Hantuchova fell at Wimbledon to Serena Williams when SW could barely walk?
• Good for Hantuchova for calling out Ivanovic for her squeaking her feet before every serve. Not exactly a seeker of controversy, here's Hantuchova: "[It was] ridiculous, I think. I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. Yeah, we played before and she never did it." Interestingly, the squeaking stopped in the final against Sharapova.
...Lots of question about the Lleyton Hewitt-Marcos Baghdatis throwdown -- "Lleyton Late Night" -- that began at 11:50 p.m. and ended at 4:34 in the morning, the latest match in Grand Slam history. (Somewhere, I hear Arlen Kantarian summoning an underling to investigate a 2 a.m. start "so we can get that record back.") I think we simply have to chalk this up to an unfortunate scheduling situation -- and one, we should note, that ended up working out since it created a memorable match and lots of headlines. A lot of the decisions could (probably should) have been made differently. But I'm not sure anyone acted unreasonably. It was understandable that television wanted Hewitt for the night session. It was understandable the tournament wanted to appease television. It was understandable that neither Venus Williams nor Sania Mirza was keen on moving to a "lesser" court. As a wise man once said, stuff happens.
...So Spain's David Ferrer plays a lackluster match and drops a straight-set quarterfinal to Djokovic. As he walks off the court, he's beseeched by the autograph hounds. He looks up, smiles and hands his racket to one of the kids. One of those totally extemporaneous gestures that tells an awful lot about his character.
Does recent Aussie loss amplify Federer's need for a coach? - Joel Drucker, ESPN
"I always felt it was my job to remind Pete of what he could do as a player in a way that was pointed and simple," said Paul Annacone, Sampras' former coach."When we got back together in 2002, the message as we geared up for that year's U.S. Open was very clear: Use your athleticism. That may seem obvious, but sometimes just planting a basic idea in a player's mind can accomplish a lot."
What idea might work for Federer? Consider this one: Bring even more of your variety to the table. If you want to win the French Open, stop trying to go toe to toe with Rafael Nadal by hitting topspin backhands to Nadal's forehand. Use the slice backhand more. Hit down the middle. Vary serves and returns.
But in the world of pro tennis, the messenger is even more important than the message... So what kind of coach would work for Federer? Probably not an excessively vocal type such as Brad Gilbert or Larry Stefanki. These two are brilliant but gung-ho in a way that would impinge on Federer's low-key disposition. Nor would he benefit from the paternalism of a Nick Bollettieri or the technical proficiency of a Robert Lansdorp.
The criteria for Federer's coach: Unobtrusive, kindly devoted, familiar with the rituals of the men's game, but willing to bring a few new ideas to the table in ways Federer hasn't thought of before. Annacone would be excellent, as would other wise minds such as Mats Wilander or Jose Higueras.
Breakthroughs of Tsonga and Hantuchova among top Aussie moments - Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN
A-OK: Rafael Nadal, when asked how he's feeling compared to the end of the 2007 season:"My body is perfect, no? Physically speaking."
Payday: Runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's $607,000 check is more than his cumulative career prize money in four previous years as a pro. Should keep the best smile in tennis going for a while.
Payday II: Lindsay Davenport passed Steffi Graf to become the highest-earning female athlete in history ($21,910,559) but she'll have to keep winning to hold off Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam, who's a mere $1.1 million behind at $20,837,501. Davenport turned pro in 1993, the year before Sorenstam.
Second serves: Djokovic looking like a champ - Foxsports
I get it already, he looks like Muhammad Ali:
Djokovic keeps cool to win his first major - Matthew Cronin, Foxsports
In a clear statement that he's ready to rumble with the world elite, the strong and sturdy all-courter pummeled the pumped-up young Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the final.
...Last year, in the U.S. Open final against 12-time Grand Slam champion Federer, he failed to take care of seven set points and let the match slip away when crunch time came. But this time — both against Federer in the semis and against Tsonga in the final — when it was time for Djokovic to shut the door, he clicked it in.
"I knew he could do it," Dijana said. "He was so mentally strong. At the U.S. Open, when he played Federer, he was playing the king. He's only 20 (years old playing) in front of 23,000 people. He was shaky and didn't take the many opportunities he had. But when that was over, my husband told him, 'you'll never lose to Federer again if you get more mature.'"
Dancing with the Stars: Season 6 Rumors - Buddy TV
TV Guide reported in their most recent issue that Cheryl Ladd and Monica Seles are possible celebrities to compete on Dancing with the Stars.
Nike is poised to sign Roger Federer to a new deal that stands to be the most lucrative tennis endorsement ever, sources said.
The 10-year extension could be worth as much as $13 million a year. Sources close to the deal differed on whether that money was fully guaranteed or in part depended on how well tennis’ top male player performs on the court.
...If Federer’s deal is fully guaranteed, he would easily become the highest-paid tennis endorser. Even if, for example, half the money was guaranteed, it still would make him one of the top, if not the top, endorser.
But Nadal and Djokovic will have their work cut out for them early in the 2008 season with Rankings points to defend at the year's first two ATP Masters Series events, whereas Federer can widen his lead at No. 1 after early exits last year.
Djokovic has the most at stake, having amassed 1,035 points in four event appearances following last year's Australian Open. He earned 850 of a maximum 1,000 points at the ATP Masters Series tournaments last March, reaching the Indian Wells final to crack the Top 10 for the first time and solidifying his place in tennis' elite by clinching the Miami title.
Nadal has 700 points to defend, including the 500 received by winning the Indian Wells title, but could further increase his point total by reaching the semifinals or better in Dubai and Miami.
Meanwhile, Federer stands to collect an additional 920 points should he successfully defend his Dubai title and reclaim the Indian Wells and Miami shields. The Swiss won all three tournaments consecutively in 2005 and again reached the final at all three events the next year, finishing as runner-up to Nadal in Dubai before going on to defend his two ATP Masters Series titles.
In Tennis, Hardship and a Hunger to Succeed - Christopher Clarey, New York Times
With Maria Sharapova having dominated the field at the Australian Open, the focus will soon turn to Paris, where a victory in the French Open would give her a career Grand Slam by age 21, and keep alive her chances for the much rarer calendar-year Slam.
History suggests it will not be easy. Sharapova has never even reached the final of an event on clay, a surface that neutralizes her best qualities, serve and power.
Fresh faces get 2008 tennis season off to special start - Douglas Robson, USA Today
In a rare admission of the burden he carries, the 26-year-old Swiss said he had created his own "monster" by winning so much. Though he might have been weakened by a pre-tournament stomach ailment, the 12-time Grand Slam winner appeared stuck in fourth gear when Djokovic ended his record run of 10 consecutive finals in majors.
He's hardly done, but it might be more difficult to win two to three majors a year like he has since 2004.
What Djokovic displayed at the U.S. Open was enough physical ability to approximate Federer's game. If you want to stay close with Federer, you have to be able to retrieve constantly. Djokovic has that ability. If you want to stay close with Federer, you have to have as good or nearly as good a forehand and a better backhand. Djokovic has that, too.
In the backhand-to-backhand rallies at the Australian Open, Federer could not take command. The serves of the two men were nearly equal, but Federer last September had a significant edge at the net. On balance, though, it was fair to say that when they met in New York, their games were about equal, physically.
A Future No. 1 Player Collects His First Major
- Tom Perotta, New York Sun
What will Djokovic be like as a no. 1? For the last four years, tennis has been ruled by the most gentlemanly of men: a well-spoken, classy, polite Swiss whom fans and fellow players have praised to the hilt. When Federer wins, he does so convincingly, but somehow pleasantly enough that his opponents usually thank him for the privilege.
Djokovic won't carry the top ranking in the same way. Once he arrives, instead of quiet confidence at the top, we'll have an almost ruthless competitive spirit, a man brash enough to wag his finger at the crowd and shake his head after an ace as if he knew he would hit one.
Andy Murray leaves Britain in the lurch as injury woes resurface - Neil Harman, The Times
John Lloyd, the Britain captain, is shell-shocked, not least because he heard the news from the LTA rather than the player. “What can we do?” he said, knowing that the country can prepare for a relegation play-off in September. “I feel bad for Andy because whatever happens in the match it is going to be an unbelievable experience that may never happen again. It is the kind of occasion you will always remember. I really believed he was capable of winning two matches.”
A little help from a friend has big effect on Novak Djokovic - Neil Harman, The Times
If the British No1 can draw consolation from his first-round defeat in the Australian Open, it is that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, his French conqueror, reached the final and that Djokovic, his friend from junior days, delivered exhilaratingly on his promise these past two weeks in partnership with Marián Vajda, a relatively obscure Slovakian coach, whose world ranking as a player did not exceed No34 in 1987, when the depth in the men's game was not as pronounced as it is today.
...Two security men apart, there were no trappings of a champion yesterday afternoon in Djokovic's hotel foyer. His younger brothers, Marko and Djordje, were playing keepy-uppy with a tennis ball between making gestures behind Novak's back, and his mother, Dijana, was settling the bill for a longer stay than the family had expected.
“We all have fun with each other. They [his siblings] don't really care if I am a winner, to them I am just a big brother,” Djokovic said. “They don't have to pretend with me, like other people. They help me to deal with the pressure by making my days as normal as possible.”
...One pronounced side-effect of his nature is his penchant for ball bouncing in his service preparation - “My worst habit,” he said. “I don't know how many times I do it and sometimes I don't want to do it at all,” he said. “I have a sore back from all that bouncing, it takes up so much time. I know it upsets my opponents, but it is not a trick. They are angry, but what can I do? Especially when I am nervous, it is as though I cannot control it.”
We knew he was human before the semi-final defeat in Melbourne, because like Pete Sampras he has not won the French, but Federer. is on the way to being the greatest of them all. The 26-year-old Swiss’ 12 grand-slam titles (three Australian Opens, five consecutive Wimbledons, equalling Bjorn Borg’s record, and four US Opens) don’t tell the story of what it is to watch him. For tennis fans it is a religious experience. To separate his forehand seems churlish, but its liquid power transcends the rest of his game. Just watch it and breathe. John McEnroe, no easy critic, calls Federer’s top-spin forehand the greatest shot in tennis.
Australian Open belongs to Novak Djokovic
- Mark Hodgkinson, The Telegraph
He may not have had the slam-dunks, the early verve or the crowd support of his opponent, but what Novak Djokovic did have was a tighter all-round game at the Australian Open yesterday. And that was why he beat the unseeded and dangerous Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win his first grand slam title, and also the first for the young tennis nation of Serbia.
Australians serve up a bonzer Grand Slam
- Martin Johnson, The Telegraph
You do not pronounce the T in Tsonga, nor indeed the D in Djokovic, but that was the only thing about either of them that was silent last night. Quite apart from the grunting that accompanied their heavy artillery, both of them gave out guttural roars whenever they won an important point, and the crowd was pretty vocal too. Mostly in favour of the Frenchman.
Djokovic's stellar rise leaves Murray playing catch-up - Richard 'Jago', The Guardian
The upward paths of the two 20-year-olds had been remarkably parallel and they began 2007 with the Serb ranked 16 in the world and Murray 17. Since then, though, Djokovic has not only followed his US Open final appearance with a first grand slam title in Australia but has become tactically more aggressive and mentally stronger.
New, stronger Sharapova looks forward to French Open as Ivanovic falls short - Steve Bierley, The Guardian
It's one of the biggest challenges to win it but as you all know I love a challenge," she said after defeating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-3. "It's what drives me. I'm getting better and feeling stronger. I'm holding my ground on the clay, my body is developing, and I think I have a great chance."
Djokovic draws the sting from Tsonga for first Slam - Paul Newman, The Independent
Thirty-four years ago Didier Tsonga crossed the Congo River from his home town of Brazzaville to watch Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman in Kinshasa in the "Rumble in the Jungle". Yesterday he hoped to witness another great moment in sporting history, only to see Novak Djokovic come off the ropes to beat his son, Jo-Wilfried, who bears a striking resemblance to Ali, to the Australian Open title.
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